After speaking with Dascha Polanco, there are a few things I can confirm. She is authentically warm, downright hilarious, and incredibly introspective. In terms of the latter, Dascha Polanco has been reflecting on her current chapter of life. "Everything feels full circle right now," the actress tells me.
Her latest career endeavors have all had a special connection to her upbringing as an Afro-Latina woman in New York. Take, In The Heights, for example. The film—an adaptation of Lin Manuel Miranda's hit musical—tells the story of the vibrant Latinx community in New York's Washington Heights. Polanco plays Cuca, who works at the neighborhood hair salon. To get into character, she didn't have to look far for inspiration. Polanco has always had a front-row seat to the beauty industry—her mother was a cosmetologist, and her aunt currently owns a hair salon in Brooklyn.
When we hopped on the phone, it was a day after the red carpet premiere of In The Heights. After seeing it on the big screen for the first time, Polanco was brimming with palpable excitement and ready to talk. During our conversation, she spoke passionately about the film. We also spent time discussing some of her other interests, like her lifelong passion for skincare and ever-growing fragrance wardrobe. Ahead, read everything Polanco had to say.
The One Thing That Completes Her Shower Routine
"I've been using Olay products for a long time. The new Exfoliating Body Wash ($8) with sugar and cocoa butter is amazing. I love when my skin feels velvety smooth and hydrated, especially in the summer. Their body wash is definitely something that I am using quite often. It improves your skin without drying it out. Now that it's hot outside and we want to show a little more skin, we need to make sure it's hydrated."
The One Thing She Always Carries In Her Bag
"Right now, it's moisturizers. After using a whole bunch of hand sanitizers over the last year, it reminded me that I must have some hand cream with me all the time."
The One Thing Her Mother Taught Her About Beauty
"[She taught me about] natural ingredients like cocoa butter. I've been using cocoa butter for a very long time. From the moment I can remember, my mom would always remind me to hydrate my skin before going to school or after a shower. And I must say my skin is quite great."
The One Thing She Loves About Fragrance
"Fragrance is my thing. My guilty pleasure is spending money on fragrance. I have a fragrance for every mood, season, time of day, and even after the shower. It's what makes me feel complete. My look is complete once I layer my scents. Right now, I'm into lighter scents that are more woodsy with top notes of citruses. Tom Ford's Soleil Blanc ($250) is what I'm using right now."
The One Thing She Does For Self-Care
"I love a nice bath. I take out my hair clip-ins, or if I have a wig, I take that right off. I kick everything off and become bare. Then, I take a moment just to take it all in. Last night, when I got home [from the premiere], I took everything off and stared out my window for like 30 seconds and just thought, "Wow, I can't believe this is happening." Then, I went into my bathroom.
"I don't know why but the bathroom is a place where I can meditate. I light my candle and then make sure my bath or shower is at the right temperature. And people might think that it's simply just taking a shower or a bath, but it's not that. In that moment, you're paying attention to every detail of yourself."
The One Thing She Hopes Fans Take Away From In The Heights
"I want them to be empowered. I want them to feel inspired. It's a really fun movie. Yesterday, I was able to see it on the big screen for the first time. And I was engaged with it the whole time. The story just sucks you in. You feel the emotion, the music, and the dancing.
"I hope the audience realizes the importance of feeling included and knowing your story is important. It's so relatable across the board. We all have a dream. It's not just a Latinx story. It's a universal celebration of the joys of coming together as humanity. [The film] is right on time."